The real meaning of “Moses”

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A failure to notice the obvious

Every reader of the Bible is familiar with Moses – Moshe in Hebrew. His stories are among the most beloved in all of Scripture: the splitting of the Red Sea, the giving of the Ten Commandments, the manna in the wilderness. No prophet was able to get as close God as Moses. We have read his name so many times that we feel that we know him personally. But have you ever stopped to think about his name? What does Moses mean?

Drawing out from the deep

After saving a Jewish infant boy from death, the daughter of Pharaoh “named him Moses, saying I drew him out of the water” (Ex. 2:10). When we read this verse in translation, it leaves us scratching our heads. This is because it only makes sense in the original Hebrew, where “she named him Moshe (משה), saying: "out of the water Meshi him (משיתיהו)”. The similarity in sound between the name “Moshe” and the word “meshi” (drew) is what makes this verse shine. 

Return to the source- learn Hebrew

Pharaoh’s daughter named Moses after her own action, but the verb “Moshe” in Hebrew is in active form- “He draws out”. It is a suitable name for the leader that drew the Israelites out of Egypt, out of the red sea. We can trace the Hebrew origins of many common names, and find their genuine meaning. Enroll in our online Hebrew course, and learn to speak one of the most important languages in history, from the comfort of your own home!